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December 12, 2013
Student ACT scores show average college readiness

For the third year in a row, Tooele County high school juniors scored lower than their statewide counterparts on a major national test of college preparedness.

Results of the American College Testing administered statewide to all high school juniors in March 2013, show that the average composite ACT score for county students was one point lower than the state average—but the gap between county students and the state average is closing.

The number of Tooele County students meeting the minimum benchmark for college readiness set by the ACT board also increased.

“This year’s ACT scores are not significantly different from last year’s,” said Debra Bushek, Tooele County School District assessment director. “With only three years of data, it is hard to see any trends.”

This is the third year the state has funded the ACT test for all students as a way of measuring college and career preparedness.

The average composite score for Tooele County School District high school juniors that took the test in March 2013 was 18.8 compared to a state average of 19.8 — a one point difference.

In 2011 the average ACT score for Tooele School District was 18.4 and the state average was 19.6 for a 1.2 point difference.

The ACT is designed to measure academic development in English, math, reading and science. Test scores are reported on a scale of one to 36, and the four test scores are averaged to reach a composite score.

The ACT has established benchmark scores for each subject that correspond to a prediction of success in college coursework. A benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT test that indicates a 50 percent chance of obtaining a “B” or higher, or a 75 percent chance of obtaining a “C” or higher in the corresponding credit college courses.

In 2012, 10 percent of Tooele County students that took the ACT scored at or above the benchmark in all four areas of English, math, social studies, and science.

In 2013, 12 percent of Tooele County students that took the ACT test were rated as college ready in all four areas.

Statewide 18 percent of students were college ready in all four areas in 2013.

By subject in March 2013, 48 percent of Tooele School District juniors scored college-ready in English; 40 percent were college-ready in reading; 24 percent were college-ready in math; and 17 percent were college-ready in science.

Comparing Tooele County and Utah statewide scores to national scores can be misleading because of the number of students that take the test, according to Bushek. Only 10 states test all of their students.

In states that don’t test all of their students, the average score tends to be higher because students that are not college bound who may score lower on the test are not included in the data, added Bushek.

At 20.7, Utah had the highest average composite ACT test score for the graduating class of 2013 among the 10 states that test all students.

“Ideally it would be best if all students tested as college ready, even if they aren’t planning on going to college,” said Scott Rogers, Tooele County School District superintendent. “College and career readiness are related. As we implement the new Utah Core curriculum, and align instruction and materials to objectives, we should see ACT scores increase.”

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